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Questions go unanswered about purpose of DHS Disinformation Board

Questions go unanswered about purpose of DHS Disinformation Board


Questions go unanswered about purpose of DHS Disinformation Board

WASHINGTON — There is little credible information about the new Disinformation Governance Board.

And that has made it an instant target for criticism.

The board, part of the Department of Homeland Security, was announced last week. But DHS has released few details on how the board will function and what powers it will have.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was attacked again Wednesday by Republican members of Congress who have already called for the board to be disbanded. Some civil liberties advocates also worry the group could violate freedom of speech.

“It is just an episodic failure,” said Brian Murphy, a former director of DHS’ intelligence arm, of the board’s launch. “And it has set the true disinformation professionals, wherever they live, back.”

The top Republicans on two key congressional panels wrote to the department on Friday demanding more information. Even privately, congressional staffers say they know little about the board or how it's being funded beyond the spare public announcements made by the department's leadership.

“Given the complete lack of information about this new initiative and the potential serious consequences of a government entity identifying and responding to ‘disinformation,’ we have serious concerns about the activities of this new Board,” wrote Reps. Mike Turner of Ohio and John Katko of New York, the top Republicans on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees.

DHS that same day held a call with congressional staffers and the board’s new director, Nina Jankowicz, an author and expert on Russian disinformation.

According to one person on the call, Jankowicz said there was a broad vision for what the board would do but did not offer specifics to some questions, including how her organization would work with existing anti-disinformation efforts with DHS. The department also has not provided Congress with detailed written plans beyond a summary it sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the same day the department publicly announced the creation of the board.